Welcome to Day 13 of Where’s My Money Going? Month! This February 2009, I’m challenging readers (and myself) to track spending manually for 28 days. Don’t worry if you’re late to the party, you’re still welcome to join. Consider tracking your spending into March.
Even though I’m tracking my money manually this month, I’ll be reviewing some programs which allow you to automatically track your accounts online. Keeping all your account information in one place can speed up manual tracking or help you do less of it, simply reconciling your numbers periodically.
Yesterday and the day before I reviewed Mint.com, Geezeo, Quicken Online and Yodlee. Today I’ll be writing about Wesabe, Buxfer, and Expensr. All seven are free, trusted places to monitor your money online. I have tried out all 7 and will be sharing my thoughts about the pros and cons of using each.
Trying Out Wesabe
Wesabe is similar to Geezeo, in that it combines social networking with financial tracking. You have a username, can set goals and join groups. Plus there are tips, which are possibly advertising related (it’s hard to tell) but seem to be submitted by users.
When tagging transactions, you can create tags that apply to every transaction from that store, otherwise it doesn’t seem to automatically assume that a transaction should be tagged with one thing or another. You can also rate how much you like a merchant.
Wesabe also allows you to create your own charts for tracking particular spending tags. It takes up a bit more space than most budgets do because there are special charts for each, but if you’re only tracking a few things then no biggie.
Since I’ve mentioned how others react to ING Direct, I’ll add that Wesabe seems to have no problem with them.
All in all, Wesabe didn’t appeal to me very much. Maybe it’s because I’m not looking for a social network and that’s its only real advantage over some of the others.
Trying Out Buxfer
Buxfer is the only one of the online programs I reviewed to have different membership levels. You can get a Basic membership for free. Plus costs $1.79/month and Pro costs $2.79/month. Plus offers unlimited budgets, accounts, bill reminders as well as cashflow projections. Pro offers the same plus no advertising.
What impressed me most about Buxfer was the security login options. You don’t have to store your bank account login data on a server, you can have it stored sort-of locally if you’d like (computer option) or you can enter it yourself every time.
I think if you’re very concerned about security, then the option of entering it each time is probably the best for you. The problem with that option is that you have to update each account separately. That becomes kind of a pain.
Buxfer has an interesting take on social networking. It’s not as open and doesn’t feel as integrated as Geezeo or Wesabe, but it does allow you to create contacts and groups. What I found most interesting and unique is that you can track what different contacts owe you (or what you owe them). It’s not a bad idea, since it keeps the need for repayment fresh in both of your minds. I don’t know if that makes it play out better or not.
Buxfer also allows you to create simple budgets for transactions with specific tags.
I’d say that Buxfer is the best choice for a) those who are highly security-conscious (though check out Expensr’s options too), b) those who would like to network but only with people they know, c) those who lend or borrow frequently and can persuader their creditors/debtors to sign up too.
Trying Out Expensr
I think Expensr is even more secure than Buxfer. The downside is that it’s even more awkward to use. Expensr will let you import your data, but only if you can export it from your bank website in an OFX format. They won’t even touch your bank’s website.
This is a great option for those who want to enter things manually anyway but want access to their finances online. It’s also a good option if you’re quite concerned about security and don’t even like Buxfer’s option of only connecting one time. For people who are looking for convenience and who trust the security at the other companies, this is probably not the right choice.
Expensr is a bit of a community site, you can create a profile and make friends but it doesn’t seem to have the groups/goals options that Geezeo and Wesabe offer. Because you create tags for yourself in your profile, you can compare yourself to other people who’ve described themselves similarly.
For example, I could compare myself to other people tagged with “in my twenties” “employed full time” etc.
The Expensr blog has information about using the site as well as periodic financial posts.
Anyway, I don’t think it’s the best site if you’re looking for social interaction…I’d probably choose Geezeo and Wesabe first. But it’s perfect for people who are only interested in entering things manually or who are uber-security conscious.
Which Web-Based Money Tracking Software Is Best?
Each of these options has upsides depending on your needs. If you’re looking for a social network, then Geezeo, Wesabe, Buxfer, and Expensr all have different types of communities. My description of each may help you out, or you can sign up and take a look at each without setting up accounts yet.
If you’d like to be able to pay your bills from the site or you want a very professional (and secure) site, try Yodlee, with its features and ING Direct-like login process.
Do you use one of these sites to track your finances? What’s your experience been?
This post was part of Where’s My Money Going? Month. Tomorrow is a guest post by a reader who has been tracking her finances since she was 16!